Think of a renewable source of energy that could be harnessed constantly to produce electricity. The sun? Goes down every night. Wind? Stops blowing now and then. Unlike other renewables, wave power is one of the most reliable energy sources on Earth, and could play a major role in the ongoing clean energy transition.
According to the World Energy Council, the total global potential of wave energy is about 32 PWh/yr (petawatt hour per year), approximately double the world’s electricity supply in 2008. However, wave power has major challenges to overcome for it to be deployed: mainly harnessed through offshore devices, it suffers from very high costs, both for installation and for maintenance.
Inna Braverman, the CEO of Eco Wave Power, might have found a solution that could transform the way we transform waves into electricity. She has developed a system of floaters that can be fixed to existing marine structures: breakwaters, jetties or piers. As the waves come, they create an up and down movement and intense pressure in hydraulic cylinders which spin a generator, turning this motion into electricity.
“99% of the competitors in the wave energy market decided to go offshore. Offshore means four or five kilometres into the sea, which means the technology needs to be moored to the ocean floor, which is very expensive. You need ships and divers for installation and maintenance, there’s no way to avoid storms because - again - it’s connected to the ocean floor” explained Inna Braverman in an interview with Wired. With her solution, she can provide affordable wave power generation as most of the electricity generation devices are located on shore.
The technology is gaining major attention. Eco Wave Power already has projects up and running in Israel and Gibraltar, and currently holds projects pipe-line of more than 111MW, with developments in UK, Scotland, Chile, China, Mexico, and Cyprus.
The potential for wave power is massive. According to Ocean Energy Europe, “in Europe alone, the ocean energy industry plans to deploy 100GW of production capacity by 2050, meeting 10% of electricity demand. That’s enough to meet the daily electricity needs of 76 million households”. If so, the industry could create as many as 400,000 jobs.